By Ezra Klein
I cook two cuisines. That’s not to say all my dishes come from two cuisines. But insofar as I actually keep specialty ingredients on hand and try to understand the theory behind the plate, I specialize: Sichuan and Italian. Fuschia Dunlop and Marcella Hazan. Kung pao and marinara.
What I’m going to say next might blow your mind. You might leave this blog and never come back. You might write angry letters and protest outside the IFA headquarters (and good luck on that: our lair is deep inside a hidden volcano). But here it is: The two go great together. In particular, a traditional Italian tomato sauce is immeasurably improved by the addition of toasted Sichuanese peppercorns. Their smoky tingle provides the perfect low note to stewed tomatoes and a few glugs of heavy red wine. Trust me.
Three cloves sliced garlic
Half onion, diced (can use a full onion if you like your sauces onion-y.)
1 tbs ground Sichuan peppercorn (toast the whole peppercorns then grind in a mortar and pestle, or a food processor.)
Five dried Sichuan chiles
Five chili piquin (optional: I love them, but I like spicy food).
Four anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed (use your hands, It’s fun!)
A few glugs of full-bodied red wine.
Preparation is straightforward. Heat your olive oil. Add garlic, onion. Cook on medium heat until translucent. Add chiles, ground peppercorn, and anchovies. Saute 30 seconds, or until aromatic. Add crushed tomatoes with their juice. Add a bit of wine. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Serve on pasta.